Category Archives: Literacy
I mentioned a while back that my students were working on memoirs and that my students were each going to put their memoir in to a class book. Well, we completed our book and even added some of their art work, in addition to their memoirs. The books arrived just last week and the quality is awesome (and they took less than 2 weeks turn around time from when we submitted the final proof). The kids did a super job and the site that we used, Picaboo (which is actually a yearbook site) was fantastic to work with. We used the site to self-publish, essentially. However, they also sent me a copy of their actual yearbooks to get an idea of quality – and both hard and soft covers are really well-made.
Not all of my students could afford a yearbook this year, but the Picaboo yearbooks were only $10 a piece – that’s pretty affordable. There are no minimums for orders and so the teacher could order one book for the class library, or each student could purchase their own copy. Picaboo also offers free ebooks, so students could still share their work with parents etc.- just online.
The day the books arrived, I allowed my students time to mingle and check out each others’ published work and even write “yearbook” type comments – since every student did get a copy of our class book of writing, “From the Minds of 7B ~ A book of Memoirs”. They thought it was great, because again, they hadn’t all gotten yearbooks and this way they did get to sign messages to each other and it was almost MORE special since it was something that only our class was a part of.
Even my reluctant writers were pretty proud of their work and I think using a site, like Picaboo, to self publish is a must to give purpose for writing. This site is affordable, easy to use, and has tons of extra options for anyone who wants to “get fancy” with their class writing project. And again, at the end of the day – the site is a Yearbook making site – and I would recommend looking into them if you’re getting started with yearbooks in your school or classroom. Their customer service was wonderful!
Really, it’s pretty cool (in my opinion) to create a class book of writing, include artwork, class photos, cool backgrounds and borders – and all for $10 a book. I’m proud of the work that we did this year in writing and I’m happy that each of my students has become a published author before the end of the school year.
If you want help with organizing your writing program and teaching genres of writing more effectively, I HIGHLY recommend,Write Genre, The: Classroom Activities and Mini-Lessons That Promote Writing with Clarity, Style, and Flashes of Brilliance. I WISH that I had found it at the beginning of last year, as improving writing instruction in my classroom was something that I actively worked on. Better late than never, I suppose!
I love this book for a few reasons:
1. Very readable and practical with lessons that I can take and use NOW
2. Suggestions are provided for assessment (6 Traits of writing)
3. It covers Personal Memoir, Fictional Narrative, Informational Writing, Opinion Pieces, Procedural Writing, Poetry and Multi-Genre chapters – basically everything I need to teach in Grade 7 LA!
It’s a perfect fit for me, and the curriculum that I am expected to teach. Although I really like our relatively new resources in Grade 7 for Language Arts, I find that they do lack in writing, which is why I was working more on it last year (and why I wish I had found this book LAST summer – would have saved me bunches of time)!
If you have been looking for help with teaching writing, I strongly suggest having a look at this resource! I am so lucky to have such a great staff – someone recommended it and we were even able to purchase multiple copies for other staff who were interested (that’s how I ended up finding the book- lucky, I know).
Do you have any titles or websites to share that assist with writing in the classroom? I’m always looking for great mentor texts (of what to do or what not to do in a piece) and student samples! Please comment if you have some to share!
“I think I might actually read this book.” Music to my ears in class just the other day, while doing a simple activity on leads.
The basic idea of the activity is to show students how to take what they appreciate in a good lead -what grabs their attention and apply it to their own writing. Simple. However, I have found that this activity serves more purposes than just that!
Here’s how I like to do my “great leads” activity:
1) Have students make a chart in their LA scribblers with the following headings: Title, Lead and My Thoughts
2) Take your class to the library (I used my own class library this year)
3) Have students choose 5 books randomly from almost anywhere in the library (you may wish to focus just on fiction or non-fiction, and omit poetry)
4) Have students record the info under each heading for the books that they choose
It always amazes me how this simple activity engages even the reluctant readers in the room. I think it’s because the expectations are something that everyone can attain – they don’t have to READ the book, just copy that first sentence and decide if they like it or not – easy!
Although this is a lesson on “what makes a good lead” and how to apply those characteristics to their writing, something else happens during this time.
Kids are looking at books – all kinds of books. They may have expectations of the book and they may not. They may pick up books they’d like to read, books that they think they’d never read, books that look interesting or just plain weird.
What has happened with my students when I’ve done this activity over the last three years, is that it gets them excited about books! They love sharing the great leads that they find and tearing apart the ones that they don’t like. The discussion is awesome! I have found that everyone contributes to the sharing portion of this lesson, because they only have to read one sentence aloud to the class and most (if not all) are okay with that. They also find books that they realize they’d like to read (because they want to know where that amazing first sentence leads). That was an unexpected surprise the first time that I did this activity.
In addition, they hear leads from books that their classmates have found and it’s like it opens up a whole new world to them.
If you haven’t explored leads with your students – try this activity out! You need no prep, and I guarantee you that your students will gain a better grasp of how to hook a reader through their own writing, while getting hooked themselves!
It takes no time to get into the swing of things, huh? I have only had two days with my new grade 7’s (and I’m aware that it’s still the honeymoon period) but they are simply a lovely bunch of kids and I’m really looking forward to my year with them! That being said, I found a cool new writing tool over the summer that I plan to try out with them and so I thought I’d also share it here. So, just to be clear it’s brand new to me and I haven’t used it with a class yet – but it looks REALLY cool!
The site is called “Figment” and it’s a site where your students can write, collaborate with each other and ultimately publish their finished pieces online for either the whole class or the entire Figment community to comment on and/or review.
Here’s how I plan to use Figment in my room – hopefully in first term!
One of the first major writing assignments that my students will have this year is to write a Memoir. My plan is to have them type these memoirs into the (simple) template on Figment – basically a word processor. Educators also have the option to “create groups” which means I’ll have all of my students in a private group. I hope that some initial sharing, giving of feedback, revisions and edits will occur in this group. When the pieces are ready, I plan for my students to publish to the Figment community! It’s very fulfilling when you become a “published author”. Using this site, all students will be able to label themselves in this way – which I love.
There is a special spot on Figment for educators to create those private groups, so if you’re interested, be sure to check it out. You have to send off an email request to have access to the private groups and so it’s not immediate. You kind of have to plan ahead, if you want to use this as an option. From what I can tell, though, I can start a thread in the group, asking students to work on a really strong lead today. Perhaps next class, I’ll ask students in a new thread to replace three of their verbs with more precise, active verbs. Students can also start threads, asking for advice and feedback. I’m very excited about this site and I think it has amazing potential.
I’ll be sure to post again after we actually get started with it, to let you know how it’s working in “real life” with real kids.
I also have my plan laid out for my students to blog again this year. I’m excited to begin that process with them this month and I already have two teachers (one in Pakistan and one in USA) who my class will be collaborating with – we’re going to be audiences for each other! Lots of plans! Don’t you love September? Everything seems possible and exciting. I have lots of energy and I just can’t wait to get started!
Side note: If you were interested in blogging with your students this year, I started a Google Doc a while back to help us find each other around the globe and to make collaboration a little bit more structured. Feel free to have a look and add your info if you’re interested and be sure to contact any teachers on the list who have a class that matches yours!
Please, share your goals for writing with your students this year! Cool sites, blog plans – I’d love to hear what you’ve got going on!
I am very proud to be a part of Reading With Mrs. D’s “Booking Across Canada” event! Bloggers from almost all provinces and territories have chosen a book that represents some aspect of where they live and have provided a freebie along with their blog post.
Thanks so much to Mrs. D. for putting this whole blog hop together. It was a fantastic idea and I hope that everyone gathers up LOTS of great titles and freebies to keep in their back pocket for the next school year!
When I was trying to decide what book to choose for this event, there was one very obvious choice, making my decision quite easy. If you’ve ever heard of Prince Edward Island, chances are you may also have heard of a feisty red-headed girl named Anne.
Anne of Green Gables was written by Island author, Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1908. The story is that of Anne Shirley, a spirited and talkative young girl, with an amazing imagination and way with words.
Just in case you’re interested here are two links for you. The first is a link to Amazon to purchase the set of Anne books: The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, … Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside) This second link will give you 3 of the Anne books, including Anne of Green Gables, as a free download for your Kobo.
Anne, a young orphan, has never felt truly loved by anyone – not even herself. That is, until she goes to live with the Cuthberts, a brother and sister who needed help on their farm at Green Gables on beautiful Prince Edward Island. They had intended to adopt a boy from the orphanage, but were sent Anne instead. Matthew, the brother of the pair, is very kind hearted and convinces his sister Marilla, that they should keep Anne.
Various antics keep the reader engaged, as Anne finds herself constantly getting into lots of sticky situations – none of them actually her fault, of course. Through the story, Anne learns about friendship, love, hard work and accepting herself for who she is. Anne has lots of struggles and successes along her path, as she grows and matures. Of course the Cuthberts come to love the fiery redhead, and call her their own. I won’t give away any more of the details, or how the novel ends, but I will tell you that you will enjoy the twists and turns of the plot and may need a tissue by the end of this classic Island story.
There are many teaching points and themes that Anne of Green Gables could address in the classroom – voice, sentence fluency, word choice, setting description, new vocabulary, figurative language etc. I have decided to focus on voice.
The way that Anne speaks is filled with passion, theatrics and spirit. This 11year old is not afraid to speak her mind. She uses her imagination to make herself feel better and to bring excitement to her life. Almost any passage in which Anne speaks, could be selected and used as a mentor text, to highlight her imaginative and energetic voice.
The freebie that I have attached would be great to use with this Island classic. Of course, I’m practical and know that not everyone will want or be able to use this exact novel. Therefore, although this freebie was inspired by Anne and her imagination, it can be used with other books from your classroom library.
Of course, like many great classics, Anne of Green Gables has also been made into a movie. Truth be told, it’s one of my favorites! Here’s a short trailer of the film.
Make sure to visit as many of the blogs in this event as you can! There are lots of amazing resources out there to be found!
I just have a quick post this evening. We got some VERY good news at my school this week. After MUCH work, and many hours we found out that we will be receiving an Indigo Love of Reading Grant for $84 000 over the next three years. Yahoo!!!!!
That’s $84 000 for books and literacy initiatives. Can you believe it? What this means to my school and our kids, I can not even describe. We are a community in need and Indigo has realized that and come to our rescue, so to speak. So, thank you so much to Indigo and all of the awesome teachers and parents who put hours of time into this application. You all rock!!!
Here’s a snippet of the telephone conversation when we found out that we were chosen. It was supposed to be an interview, to decide if our school could move to the next level. Little did we know, we were about to get some AMAZING news:)
Scroll down – we are Souris Consolidated School: Indigo Love of Reading Grant. The phone died right after we got the news and so we got cut off – but you get the idea!
I’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky enough to be a contributing teacher-blogger to Global Teacher Connect – an awesome teacher-blog with contributors from all over the world! Head on over and check out my latest post on GTC about my plans for getting my students started with blogging this week. Give us a follow while you’re there!
Welcome to Kristy, from 2 Peas and a Dog, my guest blogger for today. Thanks again for such an awesome idea, Kristy. Enjoy folks!
Need a strategy to improve student achievement? Have you tried Bump It Up Boards? They are a great visual way to help your students self monitor their achievement.
How To Get Started:
Choose a curriculum expectation or focus you see as a need in your classroom. I chose the 4 R’s [retell, relate, reflect, review] reading reflections strategy.
Collect many work samples of your focus. You can use previous student work, ask colleagues for their examples, create your own, use government standardized test exemplars or search the internet for examples.
Ensure your samples represent a range of student achievement levels – not just ones that meet or exceed expectations.
Students worked in groups to read the responses and “grade or mark” each response based on their previous knowledge of what makes a good Retell, Relate, Reflect and Review.
A student in each group was the recorder and wrote down all of their ideas on what made the each exemplar a Level 2, (C), Level 3 (B) or a Level 4 (A).
We had a class discussion and compared our answers to ensure consistency among our expectations for Level 2, 3 and 4 work.
Final Process to Create the Board:
Type up student thinking under the appropriate curriculum expectation categories – this will become your Success Criteria.
Type up the assignment expectations and format the graded work samples to fit on to the display board.
Colour code your examples by level and attach to a bulletin board or poster board. Have students reference this board while working on their assignments to self monitor their progress.
Products to Support Bump It Boards